It’s not about those ping-pong or foosball tables…

Each time I bring up “culture” into my conversations with my peers, friends, and industry experts, I get to hear a list of facilities and equipments on offer to the employees. That’s like trying selling me on features and benefits. I’m just not going to buy it!

Of course, they also talk about the values and beliefs of their organisations. But that’s not enough to build a company that will last. And I don’t think having a ping-pong, foosball, or an airhockey table says anything about workplace culture either. Sure, the environment is casual but what about the culture?

You can go by the dictionary definition or by my oversimplified version of what makes an organisational culture — values, beliefs, and practices. It’s the last bit that most of us ignore. I believe having the right practices in place is what attracts, retains, and develops talent within organisations.

And while we’re on that, I believe the following three practices should be adopted across organisations, big or small:

  1. Be shamelessly thankful for the efforts that your employees are putting in. And say it often. If you’re wondering you’re saying it enough, you aren’t. It takes a certain amount of humility to do this but the ones who have know how powerful this simple practice can be over time.
  2. Go out of the way to ensure that employees get all the help they need to excel. Get them just the amount of coaching and training they need to excel. There’s a reason why we have to enforce performance improvement plans — there wasn’t a talent support plan in the first place!
  3. Trust them to do their jobs well. Nobody joins an organisation with the pure intent to screw things up. And if they are, it’s probably our fault. I think we don’t trust our people enough. And trust is always given first. So, you go first.

As with most things, the above list is a reminder how simple aspects can be a powerful catalyst for change. But the challenge with simple practices is that they’re forgotten way too easily at the sight of those shiny entertainment gadgets.

Like I said, culture is about practice not features and benefits.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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